(AP) – Takata filed documents with the U.S. government adding 2.7 million vehicles from Ford, Nissan and Mazda to the largest automotive recall in U.S. history, all with a type of inflator previously thought to be safe.
The affected vehicles are from the 2005 through 2012 model years.
Takata inflators can explode with too much force and spew shrapnel into drivers and passengers. At least 17 people have died and more than 180 have been injured due to the problem. About 42 million vehicles and up to 69 million inflators have been called back for repairs.
Takata uses the chemical ammonium nitrate to inflate air bags, which can deteriorate when exposed to high airborne humidity and high temperatures. A drying agent called a desiccant was previously believed to stop the chemical from degrading.
But the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says in a statement on Tuesday that tests done by Takata show that for the first time, a type of desiccated inflator “will pose a safety risk if not replaced.” The agency says it has no reports of any inflators with the desiccant rupturing. Takata said in documents filed with the safety agency that it tested inflators returned from Nissan and Ford vehicles that use calcium sulfate as a drying agent. Although none of the inflators blew apart, some showed a pattern of deterioration in the ammonium nitrate propellant over time “that is understood to predict a future risk of inflator rupture.”
Not all Takata inflators are being recalled. To find out if your car or truck is part of the recall, go to https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls and key in the 17-digit vehicle identification number.